Arriving back in Kansas City from Louisville (by way of Chicago) last night has forced me to realized that NYC is officially over. (For those of you who are now afraid that New York City is over, NYC stands for Nazarene Youth Conference.) I work for Nazarene Youth International and NYC, as one of the second largest events that the Church of the Nazarene throws, I was on staff working at NYC for the last ten days. It was a great experience and I feel beyond blessed to have been given the opportunity. As I was taking some of the signage apart, I was telling my coworker that it felt a lot like taking the Christmas tree down. I believe very strongly that God was moving in the lives of a lot of people this past week. Just seeing that KFC Yum! Center filled with 6,000 teenagers worshiping God was a beyond powerful experience.
There a couple reasons as to why I love Starbucks (yes, I do love it for more than Vanilla Rooibos Lattes made with the delightfulness that is soy milk). I am currently sitting in a table all alone in the corner, enjoying the loud music that serves as the current soundtrack for my life as I sip on a iced coffee with soy milk (have I mentioned I really like soy milk?). The reason I love Starbucks, which I’m sure you were on the edge of your seat, waiting for me to stop talking about what drinks I love to just get to my point, is that I love watching and listening to people. Call me a creeper if you will, but there is such a variety of people that come and go here.
I was just sitting by a man and a woman not too long ago, listening to their conversation about God and the working of the Spirit in their lives. (They have since been replaced by a man who just muttered the F word under his breath. See what I mean? The variety of people here is almost as great as an airport!) The man from before, whose teeth did not look real at all, was talking to this woman. I didn’t know their connection, though from the sound of it, it must have been from church. The woman looked at the smiley denture-wearing man and said, “When will God bring me someone? Am I really supposed to be alone?” He looked her tenderly and loving explained to her about the value she has in God’s eyes and that before she will be able to live with someone else, she must first be content with living with herself. I do believe that there were also some second Corinthians quotes thrown in as well.
Sitting here, listening to people talk about the deep issues of life and the surface-level issues like work and grades and boys, reminds me that we are all in this life thing together. I have heard it said before than no man is an island and I am reminded of that truth each time I enter Starbucks (or an airport, or, really, any place with other people). We are all working out our lives. We are living from day to day, but we aren’t alone. Just like that man told that lady, she is not alone. That’s why I am in ministry. I am not in ministry to show people how holy I am, but to be there to tell them: you are not alone.
My iced coffee is starting to taste a lot like ice and less like coffee now.
Last Sunday night, we were eating at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville. I ordered literally one of the best plates of food I have ever eaten. I have always had this irrational fear of going into a new eating establishment and not knowing what to order, but I was incredibly proud of my ordering there. (Of course it helps that just about every plate they produce is excellent, but let me please enjoy the spotlight of making a very enjoyable decision.) I ordered Walnut-encrusted chicken with a side of sweet potato fries (covered in brown sugar, mind you) and one of the world’s largest helpings of baked macaroni and cheese. And, yes, I did eat the entire plate. Okay, not the literal plate, but all the food on said plate.
Anyway, my boss’s wife was sitting across from me. After hearing exaggerated stories of me beating up the Wal-Mart tire man (I didn’t beat him up—he has a walking boot on his foot before I even got there) and changing my tire and other such feats, she told me that I seem like a very independent person. My response to that compliment was of course bursting out in laughter. I never thought anyone would ever describe me as independent. I am very much so the kind of person that plays it safe. However, after thinking about it more, I have realized that I have grown a lot not just in the past two years, but in the past two months. In a way, we all kind of grow like trees. We grow slowly overtime. We grow throughout storms and weathering. We grow in adversity and we grow in the sunshine. We are rooted, but that doesn’t keep us from growing tall enough to reach the clouds.